In November 1975, the Anchor Brewing Co. released what it called, simply, “Our Special Ale.” The beer quickly became known by two other things on the label: a generic Christmas tree smack-dab in the center and the words, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

Writing in All About Beer, Tom Acitelli notes that Anchor’s seasonal in 1975 was the first from an American brewery since Prohibition, and marked the advent of the modern Christmas beer in the United States.  After 1975, Anchor would regularly tweak both its Christmas ale recipe and label. 

Now in its 47th year, the beer is once again on shelves and on tap. Dane Volek, the head brewer of Anchor Brewing joins Em Sauter and Don Tse to talk about the history, brewery, and marketing of the beer. 

Forget the egg nog. Pour a glass and listen in. 

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John Holl is the editor of All About Beer Magazine.